Times are strange right now, and we are all in the middle of trying to establish a new normal. Because of this, I’m seeing a huge flood of blogs, videos and social media posts highlighting all of the positive things you can do right now and all of the ways that you can be productive, hopeful, and excited for the future.
Unfortunately, I’m not seeing much content that acknowledges the fact that not everyone wants to be inundated with cheery, motivational, “this too shall pass” posts.
So that’s what I’m doing today.
Today, I’m trying to meet you exactly where you are so that I can tell you that it’s okay to feel exactly what you’re feeling. If you feel calm or hopeful, I’m so glad for you. However, if you’re feeling scattered, scared, or like you’ve got emotional whiplash, then please keep reading.
I hereby give you permission to feel everything you feel.
The good, the bad, the anger, the sadness, the grief—all of it is okay. It’s normal. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Today, I’m trying to meet you exactly where you are so that I can tell you that it’s okay to feel exactly what you’re feeling. The good, the bad, the anger, the sadness, the grief—all of it is okay. It’s normal.
While we’re here, I’m also going to dispel a few quarantine myths that are likely causing you some level of stress or anxiety, too.
1. You do not have to apologize for how you feel
While it’s important to not let yourself get swept away in a cycle of anxious or fearful thoughts, we all have moments of fear, anxiety, and overwhelming stress. Remember that we’ve all essentially had the proverbial rug pulled out from under our feet, and that means that we are all trying to dust ourselves off and figure out how to move forward.
Don’t feel ashamed if you don’t have it together. Trust me, all of those Pinterest-perfect posts you’re seeing on social media aren’t telling the whole story. You’re not seeing the loneliness, the 3 a.m. tears, or the unexpected anger that same person who’s making “inspirational” posts might be dealing with.
So, again, it’s okay to feel exactly what you feel, even if it’s not pretty. Allowing yourself to experience these emotions is the best way to get through them and eventually let them go.
2. You do not have to “become your best self” right now
If you have the energy and desire to take this time to work on your appearance, learn something new, or develop your hobbies, then you should do so with joy!
However, this is not the time to put extra pressure on yourself. You don’t have to suddenly become a yoga expert or a baking aficionado. You don’t have to learn a new language, work out for an hour every day, start a creative project, or FaceTime with your family out of guilt.
If all that you can manage is to successfully work from home, wash your hair a couple of times a week, and maybe not eat the whole family-sized bag of chips in one day, that’s okay. Don’t let your social media feeds pressure you into trying to do too much, and don’t let friends or family put extra demands on your time if you don’t have the mental capacity to socialize.
You don’t have to come out of this thing as a shiny new version of yourself. Right now, it’s more important to work on not losing the parts of you that bring you joy. If you have energy left after that, then maybe you can try to bake some bread or whip up some dalgona coffee.
3. You do not have to read every news alert
I know I’m not the first person to say this, but it’s important enough that I think it bears repeating.
Constant access to the news is not your friend right now.
Remember that news outlets only succeed based on how many views they can generate, so they are primed to churn out content with attention-grabbing headlines, scary statistics, and serious-looking graphs.
I’m not saying that you should stick your head in the sand and not be informed, but I am saying that there’s a difference between staying informed and getting caught up in a cycle of sensationalized news. It’s completely rational to feel like you need to check the news frequently because, hey, more information is better, right? Unfortunately, it’s actually not in most cases.
Too much news (including headlines shared on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram) has been shown by research to have a negative impact on your mental and physical health. In fact, one study even showed that negative news can make any problem in your life seem more catastrophic, even if it’s not related to the topic of the news story.
So, for the sake of your mental health, I am giving you permission to read the news less.
You’re allowed to feel exactly how you feel
I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but I want this mantra to stick with you in the coming days: It’s okay to feel exactly what you’re feeling in this moment.
You don’t have to pretend you’re fine.
You don’t have to become your best self.
You don’t have to constantly refresh the news.
You just have to do your best, whatever that means for you today. You’ve got this.